Harvey (film): Wikis


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  • the Helmerich Award, an annual literary award that pays US$40,000 to an "internationally acclaimed" author, is named after the actress who played "Nurse Kelly" in the 1950 film Harvey?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Directed by Henry Koster
Produced by John Beck
Written by Mary Chase
Oscar Brodney
Myles Connolly (Uncredited)
Starring James Stewart
Josephine Hull
Peggy Dow
Charles Drake
Music by Frank Skinner
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Distributed by Universal International Pictures
Release date(s) October 13, 1950
Running time 104 min
Language English

Harvey is a 1950 film based on Mary Chase's play of the same name, directed by Henry Koster, and starring James Stewart and Josephine Hull. The story is about a man whose best friend is a "pooka" named Harvey—in the form of a six-foot, three-and-one-half-inch tall rabbit.



Elwood P. Dowd (Stewart) is a middle-aged, amiable (and somewhat eccentric) individual whose best friend is an invisible 6'3.5" tall rabbit named Harvey. As described by Dowd, Harvey is a pooka, a benign but mischievous creature from Celtic mythology who is especially fond of social outcasts (like Elwood). Elwood has driven his sister and niece (who live with him and crave normality and a place in 'society') to distraction by introducing everyone he meets to his friend, Harvey. His family seems to be unsure whether Dowd's obsession with Harvey is a product of his (admitted) propensity to drink or perhaps mental illness.

Veta (Josephine Hull) and Myrtle Mae (Victoria Horne).

His sister, Veta Louise Simmons (Hull), tries to have Elwood committed to a sanatorium. In exasperation, she admits to the attending psychiatrist (Dr. Lyman Sanderson, played by Charles Drake) that, after so many years of putting up with the invisible rabbit, she sees Harvey every once in a while. This causes Dr. Sanderson to let Elwood out and lock Veta up. After sorting out the mistake, Dr. Chumley, head of the sanatorium (Cecil Kellaway) decides that to save the reputation of the sanatorium he must bring Elwood back. At one point, faced by many trials she does not understand, Veta says to her daughter "Myrtle Mae, you have a lot to learn and I hope you never learn it."

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" -- she
always called me Elwood -- "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant."
Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.
James Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd,
Elwood P. Dowd's 'Philosphy' of Life

When tracked down, Elwood goes through several ordeals, although he remains largely oblivious to the plans put in place for him by Dr. Chumley, Judge Gaffney (William Lynn) and Veta Louise. In a poignant scene where Dr. Sanderson and his nurse Miss Kelly (Peggy Dow) follow Elwood into an alley at the back of his and Harvey's favourite bar - Charlie's, Elwood tells the incredible story of how he came to meet Harvey, and explains the way in which people react when they meet them. In a later scene, he gives Dr. Chumley an insight into his 'philosophy' of life.

In the final scene of the film, Elwood (along with everybody else) arrives back at the hospital. By this point, Dr. Chumley is not only convinced of Harvey's existence, but has begun hanging out with him on his own, with a mixture of admiration and fear.

Dr. Sanderson convinces Elwood to come into his office where he'll receive a serum that will stop Dowd from "seeing the rabbit". As they are preparing for the injection, Elwood's sister is told by their cab driver about all the other people he has driven to the sanatorium to receive the same medicine, warning her that Elwood will become "just a normal human being. And you know what stinkers they are." Upset by the very thought of this, Veta halts the procedure by banging on the examining room door, at which point Elwood comforts her and explains her tears to others with, "Veta's had a big day."

Miss Kelly (Peggy Dow) and Dowd (James Stewart). Judge Gaffney (William H. Lynn) is in the background.

At the tale's end Harvey is given the choice of remaining with Dr. Chumley (and spending two weeks with him in Akron, Ohio) or continuing his life with Elwood. The rabbit catches up with Elwood at the exit to the sanatorium, the gate is seen opening as Harvey follows the others out.



Hull's performance earned her an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress; Stewart's portrayal earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination. Stewart later declared in an interview that Hull had the most difficult role in the film, since she had to believe and not believe in the invisible rabbit... at the same time.

This film was ranked #35 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "10 Top 10"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Harvey was acknowledged as the seventh best film in the fantasy genre.[1][2]

American Film Institute recognition

Remakes and other uses

The play/film was made for television several times:

In August 2009 it was announced that Steven Spielberg was to direct a remake of the film, with production beginning in 2010. The film would be a co-production between 20th Century Fox and Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios, and novelist Jonathan Tropper had written the adaptation for the new version. Spielberg approached Tom Hanks and later Robert Downey, Jr. for the lead role, but in December 2009 he opted out after a dispute over his vision for the project.[3] [4]

In addition, the Jimmy Stewart Museum, based in Stewart's hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania, presents the Harvey Award to a distinguished celebrity tied to Jimmy Stewart's spirit of humanitarianism. Past recipients include Robert Wagner, Shirley Jones, Janet Leigh, and Rich Little.

On the Sci-Fi series Farscape, John Chichton is implanted with a "neural clone" of one of the main villains, which only he can see and hear. John names this character Harvey in reference to this play/film.


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